Traffic police suspend drive against drink-driving due to coronavirus infection scare

Kathmandu, March 20

Traffic police have suspended the use of breathalysers to check driving-under-influence with effect from today, as the country continues to grapple with fear of novel coronavirus spread.

Superintendent of Police Jeevan Kumar Shrestha, spokesperson for Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said the law enforcement agency would halt regular anti-drink driving campaign until further notice. “However, no one should take it for immunity to drink driving. We appeal to all the motorists to refrain from driving under the influence and save themselves from road accidents,” added Shrestha.

COVID-19 spreads mostly from person-to-person. Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes transmit the deadly virus to other persons. Use of breathalysers amid global pandemic of COVID-19 is highly unhygienic. It can be a mode of transmission. Even the cops handling these devices will be at risk of getting infected.

Nepal Police had made breathalysers mandatory to catch DUI offenders. Anti-drink driving is one of the sustained campaigns being conducted by traffic police in Kathmandu valley. It was launched on 3 December 2011 as per the Motor Vehicle and Transport Management Act-1993. The special campaign has helped reduce road accidents. The MTPD punishes each offender of drink-driving with a fine of Rs 1,000.

The law does not say anything about alcohol limit and thus the law enforcement agency has adopted zero tolerance policy in drink-driving cases.

MTPD has also suspended the mandatory orientation being provided for offenders of drink-driving and lane discipline violators in compliance with the government’s decision to prohibit the gathering of more than 25 persons. “Persons, whose driving licence has been held by traffic police, may take them back by paying the prescribed fine. They should not attend orientation class,” said SP Shrestha.